Brewing up a Ruling

Edith Perez

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As a result of recent studies linking acrylamide, a chemical produced when coffee beans are roasted, to cancer, a California judge ruled on March 29, that coffee must come with a cancer warning label. The ruling comes from a lawsuit filed by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics in 2010. Starbucks and other companies are fighting against the court ruling, but some Americans may be wondering about the results of drinking coffee.

People should not stop drinking coffee as result of this ruling though, because there are many health benefits that come with drinking it.

Many people around the world drink coffee every day. According to the International Coffee Organization, more than 3.4 billion pounds of coffee were consumed in America between Oct. 2016 and Sept. 2017. With coffee being a staple drink for many, it’s been tested numerous times to see the possible health benefits and disadvantages. In fact, in 2016, the World Health Organization concluded that coffee can actually help protect against cancer.

Prior to this announcement, coffee had been listed as possibly carcinogenic, due to a panel of experts’ decisions linking it to bladder cancer in 1991. The experts in the 1991 panel were the same ones who stated that coffee was not linked to cancer. Major health organizations and institutions have proved that coffee is perfectly safe to drink. While the court argued that coffee companies didn’t have enough proof for the safety of acrylamide, there is also not enough proof of its dangers either. It’s still too early to make coffee companies put cancer warning labels on their coffee. This is only scarring the public, not informing them, by making them think they will get cancer.

Coffee has been proven to have many health benefits. Some of these benefits include protecting against Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cirrhosis and improving heart health. According to researchers at Harvard University, people who drink coffee in moderation can lower their chances of having heart failure by 11 percent.

Coffee is also nutritious. One cup of coffee without without cream and sugar only contains around two calories, and is the number one source of antioxidants, according to researchers from the University of Scranton. While some may say they can’t consume caffeine due to health risks, like high blood pressure and anxiety, the good news is a lot of these benefits exist for decaf coffee as well because the benefits are linked to coffee, not caffeine. Coffee can be very beneficial to people, if consumed in moderation.

Acrylamide, the chemical that started this whole court case, is listed by California as a possible cause of cancer. However, acrylamide is also found in foods such as potatoes, bread, breakfast cereal and canned black olives. These products aren’t required to label acrylamide as an ingredient, yet coffee has to. These products are just as common as coffee. While it is good to warn consumers of chemicals in products, it is only beneficial if the product has been proven to be harmful. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found acrylamide to be a group 2A carcinogen for humans, based on studies they conducted on animals back in 2002.

However, a 2014 research review found no statistically significant association between acrylamide and cancer in humans. According to, more than 90 percent of basic science discoveries from animal experiments fail to lead to human treatment, thus proving how animal and human reactions differ. If researchers want to test the effects of chemicals on humans, it would be wise to also test them on humans and not just animals. At the end of the day, it’s humans who will be consuming the acrylamide.

People should not be afraid to drink coffee as result of this ruling. Though cancer warning labels are now required, there isn’t enough research to prove that coffee is linked to cancer. People are getting too concerned too soon. Scientists should be able to perform more research on this issue before anything is finalized. Coffee, as of now, isn’t going anywhere.Edith Perez